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Prediction recap: Jakub Vrana to the rescue

Prediction recap: Jakub Vrana to the rescue

The Capitals defeated the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Thursday setting a franchise record for consecutive wins at home with 14.

Here’s a recap of the three bold predictions.

1. The Caps will trail after the first period - Wrong

Washington indeed looked a little sleepy after a 0-0 first period, but New Jersey sure didn’t put up much of a fight either. In fact, the Devils barely put up a fight at all with only 15 shots on goal for the entire game. They seemed content to force overtime from the opening face off. Bold strategy, Cotton.

RELATED: Caps set franchise record with unsightly win

2. Kevin Shattenkirk will not register a point – Correct

Shattenkirk was held off the scoresheet despite playing a team-high 21:24 including 7:23 on the power play. After the game, I wrote about how seamless his transition has been thus far and how much trust Barry Trotz already seems to have in him. He looks right at home, but I am still taking the point for being right.

3. Jakub Vrana will score – Boom!

Sometimes you get a prediction right and sometimes you nail it. This was the latter. Vrana didn’t just score on Thursday, he scored the only goal of the entire game. In what was a very sleepy contest, Vrana was one of the few players who jumped off the ice at you almost every time he was on the puck. When he scored in the third period, I wasn’t surprised at all. That’s not because of my prediction, it’s just because of the way he played all night.

2017 results: If you ignore my results for the year and just look at how I did Thursday, it looks like I actually know what I’m doing.

Correct: 25
Wrong: 46.5
Push: 3

MORE CAPITALS: Tarik El-Bashir on Jakub Vrana's speed against the Devils

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Karl Alzner on the mend, status for second round remains unclear

Karl Alzner on the mend, status for second round remains unclear

Karl Alzner on Tuesday handled his heaviest practice workload since getting hurt, but it remains unclear when the Caps’ defenseman will return to the lineup.

Alzner has been sidelined with an upper body injury since Game 2 against Toronto.

“He’s progressing [and is] day-to-day,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “When the trainers say, 'Go', then he’ll go.”

Alzner took part in contact drills, including penalty kill, signaling the next step in his recovery.

Asked if he anticipates Alzner stepping back into the lineup when he’s healthy, Trotz said: “Possibly. We’re not there yet so I’m gonna be vague to you.”

RELATED: Trotz reveals why Ovechkin missed the second half of practice

Alzner said he felt good after the hour-long practice. Asked if he expects to play right away, he said: “I think so, yeah. I didn’t really think about that...I hope so.”

Alzner, who has appeared in 540 consecutive regular season games, acknowledged that it’s been frustrating to be sidelined given what’s at stake.

“Yeah, not fun,” he said. “It’s very, very frustrating, especially at this point of the year. You can handle it a little more in the regular season, but to watch the guys go to battle and to have the feeling of beating a team, it’s unfortunate to miss that. At the same time, I know that in the long run, it’s the best thing for the team [and] clearly was the right choice.”

Alzner has been replaced in the lineup by Nate Schmidt, who has played well the past four games. In addition to being reliable in his own end, he’s registered a pair of assists. He’s also a team-best +5.  

If and when Alzner is healthy, it’s going to force Trotz and Co. to make a difficult decision. Do you take out Schmidt? Someone else? Or go with seven defensemen?

“He’s done that,” Trotz said about Schmidt putting the coaches in a tough spot. “He’s come in and he’s done a really good job. He’s such a good skater. We played a quick team and he fit in just perfectly with us. I thought he was making a statement, ‘Hey I'm gonna make it tough to take me out of the lineup.”

Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast and subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play!

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Barry Trotz reveals why Alex Ovechkin missed the second half of practice

Barry Trotz reveals why Alex Ovechkin missed the second half of practice

Alex Ovechkin missed the second half of Tuesday’s practice — the Capitals’ first session in preparation for the Penguins — because of an equipment issue.

Prior to exiting the ice, the Caps’ captain came to the bench at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and examined his skate.

“His skate broke,” Coach Barry Trotz said before cracking, “I said, ‘You didn’t have another pair? He goes, ‘I couldn’t find them.’”

RELATED: CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS PREVIEW: FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

In all seriousness, though, it’s not clear why Ovechkin did not get his skate repaired, as is usual when a blade or holder cracks. 

“I don’t know what happened,” Trotz said. “It was a skate. He came over and there was something hanging off his skate there. I think when he went in the corner, [it] got sliced. He’s fine, as you see. You saw him walking around. He’s fine.”

Added Ovechkin, who appeared to be practicing at full speed during the first 20 or so minutes of practice and looked while walking around afterward: “Yeah, my skate is broke, almost in half. It’s okay.”

Ovechkin scored three goals in the first round as the Caps vanquished the Maple Leafs, 4 games to 2. The right wing ranks ninth on the team average ice time on the team at 19:43.

In addition to Ovechkin’s situation, Lars Eller did not practice. Trotz said the third line center, who has two assists so far in the postseason, took a “maintenance day.” 

Trotz said he expects Eller to practice on Wednesday.

RELATED: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF POWER RANKINGS

Check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast and subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play!